ETWEEN Russia and the Scandinavian peninsula
lies the largest of the Baltic States, Finland, often called "the land of a
thousand lakes." The Finns, or Suomalaiset, once lived on the great
Russian plains, and Finnish tribes still live along the Volga River. In the
early centuries of the Christian era the Finns moved northward and in
Suomenmaa, "land of lakes and marshes," they settled down and lived as
an independent people until the twelfth century. After three vigorous crusades
Sweden conquered them and they turned from paganism to Christianity and the
Swedish culture. Their language has remained Finnish, though almost all other
early racial characteristics have disappeared.
AN OLD PEASANT
More than sixty-five per cent of the people of Finland are
engaged in agriculture.
In 1809 Sweden lost Finland to Russia. The Finns so stubbornly resisted
the new rule that Russia, to avoid trouble, did not annex them but left them
under their own constitution with the Czar as Grand Duke of Finland. During
this separation from Sweden the Finns developed a national spirit which was
further strengthened when, in the nineteenth century, an attempt was made to
Russianize the Baltic States. Infuriated by the stubborn, passive resistance of
Finland, Russia took brutal measures to enforce her laws.
The World War came and Finland, like the other Baltic States, secured her
freedom. She announced her independence in 1918 and is now a republic with a
president, who is elected for six years, and a single legislative body of 200
members, elected by universal suffrage.
Agriculture is the chief occupation. Because the land and climate produce
good forage crops, dairying and cattleraising are particularly successful. As
early as the Middle Ages butter was exported from Finland. Government help and
a well-developed cooperative movement are great aids to the farmers. There are
dense forests and, as the government has made very wise laws about lumbering
and reforestation, Finland's supply of lumber will never be in danger. The
largest manufacturing industries are those connected with lumber and forest
products, such as the making of wood pulp, paper, furniture and tools.
These two Finns are singing the Kalevala, the
national epic of Finland. While singing they swing their bodies backward and
forward. Often the singers sit facing each other astride the same bench instead
of on opposite benches. It is customary to sing many poetical folk tales in
Other natural resources of the country are iron ore, copper and granite,
particularly the deep black, gray and red granites so much in demand for
architectural work. The lakes and falls, especially Imatra, "the Niagara of
Finland," are a source of power, the development of which is stimulating the
building of spinning and weaving mills, paper mills, and linen factories to
such an extent that manufacturing almost rivals agriculture in importance.
Helsingfors, the capital and largest city, is picturesquely situated on a
peninsula which juts out into the Gulf of Finland. It is a progressive city,
not unlike Kansas City or Minneapolis in appearance. It is the seat of the
leading university. Two other universities ape located at Abo. Tammerfors is
the principal manufacturing city.
SOME NOTED MEN OF FINLAND
The Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, was compiled and
published in 1835 by Elias Linerot who, together with other members of the
faculty of the University of Helsingfops, collected the ancient legends and
tales handed down through the ages by the peasants as they sat before the fire
telling the hero-tales of the race. From the Kalevala Longfellow
obtained the meter which he used in writing Hiawatha.
Winner of 5,000 meter race.
Painters and sculptors are many, and architecture is very well developed.
The first great Finnish painter was Albert Edelfelt. Axel GallenKallela was an
artist who devoted most of his life to illustrating the Kalevala. Eliel
Saarinen, one of their great modern architects, has adopted America as his home
and has brought new ideas that are helping to beautify our country's buildings
To the music world Finland gave the great composer, Jean Sibelius, whose
work is known and appreciated by musicians everywhere. On his sixtieth birthday
Sibelius was pensioned by the government so that he might devote all of his
time to his art.
When you read about the mountain laurel and find that its scientific name
is Kalmia latifolia, you may like to know that Kalmia comes from the name of
Peter Kalm, a Finnish professor and scientist. In the eighteenth century Peter
Kalm made the first scientific study of American plants and animals, and
published a book about his trip to North America which is still held of value
in studying about early American life.
In 1925 Paavo Nurmi, the fleet runner of Finland, came to the United
States and broke more than thirty world records. He thus stamped himself as the
most remarkable runner of all time. Finland's athletes have generally ranked
very high in the world contests at the modern Olympic Games.
HAYMAKERS COMING HOME
climate of Finland is especially favorable for hay production and large forage
crops are the result. Consequently, cattle-raising and dairy-farming are